“As divided as our country is, so is Christianity. We have, over time, developed on a more overarching level, two distinct and nearly opposite theologies. One I call ‘personal freedom theology’. . . . The other is a communion theology. It is based on a totally opposite idea, that the common good, the good of all, is the Gospel.”
—The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel
The above quote from Bishop Rickel’s recent blog article “A ‘Pissing’ Section in the Pool” underscores the reality that there are two primary, distinct versions of Christianity attempting to guide our national conscience. These distinct expressions of the faith are usually described as conservative vs. liberal, or fundamentalist vs. progressive, or Bible-believing vs. culturally relevant. While those descriptions do apply to some degree, there is a deeper distinction and tension at play. One popular version of the faith appeals to dogma, doctrine, and cultural dominance; the other attempts to shape belief and practice using the life and teachings of Jesus as its primary reference point. One is more focused on personal salvation; the other embraces a communal understanding of salvation. So, which one is true? Which one is more “Christian?”
The truth is no version of Christianity or denomination is absolutely right or true. It’s also true that often it’s not simply a question of “either/or.” Often truth is found somewhere in between. The Reformers of the 16th Century tossed around the phrase “Ecclesia semper reformanda est”: The church must always be reforming. In other words, we must constantly be exposing what we say and believe Christianity teaches to scrutiny. Anglicans/Episcopalians seek to do that using Scripture, reason, and tradition. Of course, the beginning point must always be the life and teachings of Jesus. After all, Christians are called to follow Jesus, not a religious tradition, a book, or a particular doctrine.
So, using our Anglican/Episcopal toolset of Scripture, reason, and tradition, what does the Christian faith teach about the Bible, God, and Jesus? What is salvation? What does Christianity say about racism, sexuality, economics, and politics? How do we talk with our non-Christian friends or Christians with whom we deeply disagree about our particular understanding of Christianity?
Join us as we begin 12-week series entitled “Christianity: A Faith of Paradoxes” on September 6. And then, beginning September 13 after the worship service, join in a deeper discussion of each week’s topic via Zoom. Invite friends or family members who are curious, questioning, or even turned off by Christianity to watch online or join in the discussion forum.
We’re excited about this great opportunity to explore and share our faith with one another and with others!
September 6 “Is the Bible really true?”
September 13 “God is out to get you!”
September 20 “Does Jesus matter?”
September 27 “Are you saved?”
October 4 “Where is heaven?”
October 11 “God’s favorite people”
October 18 “Who does God want you to vote for?”
October 25 “What keeps God up at night?”
November 1 “Is God transgender?”
November 8 “The end is near!”
November 15 “God’s economic stimulus plan”
November 22 “Is Christianity dying?”